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How TV dupes our public

Updated Sep 27, 2014 12:21pm


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The author teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.
The author teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

IF today, with remote in hand, you randomly flip through channels on your TV, or browse through nearly two dozen online newspapers, you will see video clips or photos of Pakistan Air Force jets pounding targets in North Waziristan, artillery firing into the mountains, or, perhaps, some other celebration of Operation Zarb-i-Azb. But hang on! You rub your eyes. Our jets bombing Islamic fighters within the territory of this Islamic republic?

For 10 years after 9/11, Pakistanis had lived in a delusionary bubble. A majority had been brainwashed into believing that terrorism in Pakistan was the work of some “foreign hand”. So, even when various militant groups angry at Pakistan proudly claimed suicide missions against military and civilian targets, they were ignored. No Muslim could kill another Muslim, was then the prevailing logic. Surely Pakistan’s eternal enemies — India, Israel, America, or maybe even Afghanistan and Iran — were responsible.

The foreign hand myth was nurtured by overpaid and wilfully ignorant TV anchors, together with their chattering guests, to the point where it became the only truth in town. Their invited guests such as retired Gen Hamid Gul, his son Abdullah Gul, and numerous cohorts confidently pronounced that suicide bombers were uncircumcised non-Muslim agents of foreign powers. None had inspected the leftover meat.

The foreign hand myth was nurtured by overpaid and wilfully ignorant TV anchors.

Memories may be short, but readers may also recall the televised harangues of public figures ranging from comedian-minister Rehman Malik to cricketer-demagogue Imran Khan. America was then the only terrorist in the world. So, when Taliban supremo Hakeemullah Mehsud was killed by a Hellfire missile in November 2013, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar raged furiously while Cricketer Khan suffered a near apoplectic fit. That Mr Mehsud had declared war upon the Pakistani state and personally decapitated Pakistani soldiers mattered to neither.

And then, poof, it all changed! Along came Zarb-i-Azb. Suddenly the foreign hand disappeared. Suddenly it turned out that the real enemy was the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). Suddenly the nauseating daily appearances of its supporters vanished from millions of TV screens. Suddenly popular TV anchors could not remember what they had been saying for months and years. Suddenly no one, including anguished Cricketer Khan of anti-drone fame, could see the still circling (as of three days ago) drones in our skies.

A new consensus is now in place. Manufactured to suit new conditions, it forced terrorist supporters off TV screens. But how did it happen and who ordered it? If this was a scripted change, who wrote it?

I do not think a simple answer exists, or that the change could simply have been ordered from above. The ISI/army’s psy-op against the TTP may have been helped by the arrival of a new and bolder army chief. But the full story is surely more complicated.

No military has the strength to create a national consensus by itself. Even during the Third Reich, where the Nazis could coerce and terrorise at will, they knew a plain diktat could not work on the entire German nation. Therefore propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels demanded that his 3,000 full-time subordinates at the Ministry of Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda submit, with full evidence, detailed reports about the mood of the German people. The Führer would watch anxiously, and then decide if the price of food could be raised.

Pakistan’s army is powerful but nowhere as powerful. Its ability to influence popular opinion is limited. Those who think otherwise should revisit the years around 2004 when it was exceedingly unpopular. Soldiers killed in battle in Fata would not even receive proper burial rites because village imams refused to perform their funeral prayers. They were not called, as today, shaheeds.

So what explains Pakistan’s mood swing and the media’s new tune? Hopefully someday someone will write a PhD thesis on this. Meanwhile, some insight can be gained from a seminal book, Manufacturing Consent, which explains how American public opinion is shaped to suit the needs of the American establishment. Authored by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, it provides an analytical framework exposing the basic institutional structures and relationships within which the US media operates. Examining case after case, the writers reveal how the media serve, and propagandise on behalf of, the powerful societal and corporate interests that control and finance them.

The search for profits, as in the US, also drives Pakistan’s TV channels. But, the difference is that the Pakistani establishment is badly fractured from within and so its directives are often contradictory. Therefore, released from all regulation as well as ethical pressures, private channels freely exploit social pathologies while suspending conscience and good sense.

This is exemplified by how they dealt with terrorism until recently. Few channels condemned atrocities that, at one point, were a daily occurrence. Moreover, they aided and abetted terrorism by conferring respectability upon terrorists. For example, until recently the correct Urdu word for terrorist — ‘dehshatgard’ — was not used on television channels. Instead, linguistically unjustified and watered-down equivalents like ‘askariat-pasand’ and ‘intiha-pasand’ were invented.

Ratings-hungry TV channels eventually brought catastrophe to Pakistan. Their popular anchors gave space and sympathy to murderers and terrorists, and broadcast every lie, rumour, and idiocy that could sell. You just have to mentally flip through some sickening images of past years: one stood outside Lal Masjid echoing the calls of the insurrectionists; another gloated over the Mumbai massacre; a female anchor seemingly instigated governor Salmaan Taseer’s murder; a fourth justified Malala Yousafzai’s shooting.

Although the flirtation of Pakistan’s private TV channels with terrorists is over for the time being, their mischief continues. For five weeks almost all channels have been giving 24/7 coverage to protests which otherwise would have long fizzled. This effectively gifts billions of rupees of advertising time to an aggrieved loser of the 2013 elections, and a mysterious cleric with an unknown agenda. Worse, by broadcasting — in fact, showcasing — the abusive language used by Cricketer Khan in attacking his opponents, the ‘free media’ reduces the quantum of civility in Pakistan every day.

The author teaches physics in Lahore and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, September 27th , 2014


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The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (127) Closed

John Locke Sep 27, 2014 01:46am

Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy dropping some much needed truth bombs here.

Fawad Sep 27, 2014 04:00am

In democracy a party wins and another looses, just accept and carry on till next election term comes. Sometimes u can see election rigging and malpractice to address that election courts are there. But Mr Imran Khan, couldn't accept his defeat and holding this rally, which came close to overturn Nawaz govt.

I think he should either file more cases against election malpractice and wait for court justice, and fight election next term. Meanwhile he should concentrate on HIS OWN PROVINCE. the hoodlums and anarchy creators feed on these type of protest and somehow general public is always against ruling party, as no one solves their problem. So, I am sure if Imran comes in power and Nawaz hold a rally against him, people wll come out to say "Go Imran Go" without thinking twice.

So I don't think anything is going to come out for Pakistan from this, only Imran will emerge with larger public support base to fight next election. But definately, bad politics by Imran, a sour looser who couldn't accept public mandate.

BRR Sep 27, 2014 04:12am

The canned narratives that Pakistani TV and other news outlets peddle must be coming from the ISPR, or some such organization tasked to create and spread acceptable narratives.

The education departments do a good job of peddling such narratives in school books too.

When it suits them, the ISPR declares who is a good taliban and who is bad, and such definitions change. But the constant message, India, Israel and the US being responsible for all calamities, all problems, is a lie the people love to believe, love to propagate, and are proud to espouse.

Myths galore, sanity lacking.

Raheel Sep 27, 2014 04:33am

is it not more of a feedback loop ?

Us desi lot relish a conspiracy and massla stuff. bland real analysis and raw truth is not palatable.

and more of this confusion has to do with divide in our military's resolve by these self serving differences of good and bad talibs.

anyone with a theocratic outlook or agenda is bad and if they employ terror as a political tool they must be taken out. period.

politicization of islam has done more harm to us than any good. but if i say it out loud a qadri like zealot is going to kill the infidel me. and trust me i am not a RAW or MOSAD agent. i am as ordinary a pakistani as any of u reading this, but i dont knw why do we have this deep distrust/ insecurity?

the worst thing that has happened to our country is hijacking of the dominant national narrative by right wingers( religious and otherwise)

and i dont knw if this shall be published after moderation of not :/

Kiwi Sep 27, 2014 04:35am

Hoodbhoy, I salute you with admiration for speaking the truth.

shan Sep 27, 2014 04:37am

What a nice article ! I hope this helps some people in Pakistan to change their mind set of always blaming others for their own faults and weaknesses .As far as Imran Khan is concerned I don't approve his pro Taliban and anti American views , but his views on corruption ,greed and looting of resources of Pakistan by our rulers are laudable.

PI Sep 27, 2014 05:31am

Sounds like old news! we need solutions not needless commentaries!

Kashif raza Sep 27, 2014 05:37am

A basic text book of political science tells about topic of public opinion that 'public opinion is neither public nor opinion.' What is the age of so called free media in Pakistan? Respectfully Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy can be contradicted in many ways. Once after soviet retreat from Afghanistan the visiting warlords in US were compared with founding fathers of America. choices of state May be wrong but that is how states work. No altruistic class room solutions can be applied. However fine piece and eye opener for nascent and novice media to redifine it's policies and core values.

zak Sep 27, 2014 07:02am

When we implement a strategy to target and destroy the enemy we may face some setbacks and reverses but that does not mean we were wrong and everything has to be abandoned ,we have to study the existing situation and employ it to our advantage , why are TTP attacking the army and establishment because they are not allowed to target our real enemy due to pressure from US and NATO but we should not succumb to these pressures and go ahead as planned and use all situations to our advantage, intelligent and resourceful people do not blame the situation but use it as designed.

Hassan Sep 27, 2014 07:03am

PH spot on. As always.

Calcutta Man Sep 27, 2014 08:07am

Every time I read some inane -- and rabid -- anti-Indian comment made just for the heck of it by a Dawn reader, I ask myself in disgust, "Why do I keep returning to Dawn?" And then I come across meaningful articles like this, and I know why. Thank you Mr Pervez Hoodbhoy, for some honest introspective plainspeak.

However (and perhaps this is because the writer is an academic and not a professional journalist), it would have been nice if he had kept the non-Urdu knowing reader in mind; I for instance am a Bengali from eastern India, with little knowledge of Urdu. And I would like to know what ‘askariat-pasand’ and ‘intiha-pasand’ mean....I mean, it would help me gauge the extent of "watering down" as Mr Hoodbhoy calls it.

sapeace Sep 27, 2014 08:09am

Dr sadly most will not and are not willing to see this truth as successive govts including the present one has pushed them into a corner, used terrorists as needed and likes of Khan and Qadri are using this naiveté to achieve their ambitions .

Nadir Sep 27, 2014 08:10am

We, as Pakistanis have to face the bare truth. Terrorism has to be rooted out completely, in order for the country to live up to the aspirations of our founders in the decades ahead. That means that those influential individuals or organizations who had any hand in the creation, sustenance, support, sympathy or any kind of help to the extremists, i.e. Taliban or any such organizations have to be bought to task as traitors.

It must not matter who these individuals are, they could be political leaders, Army Generals serving or retired, TV anchors, Clerics, etc. Once we purge our country from these individuals then and only then we can hope to achieve progress and make this country great based on our vast resources and talent of our people. Till then we will get no where.

Karachi Wala Sep 27, 2014 08:18am

This type of media and so called experts is responsible for creating and harboring the terrorists. It is about time they should also be dealt like terrorists.

Nasrullah Khan Wazir Sep 27, 2014 08:46am

Dear Sir! Media changes its narrative as it is directed by the real power. And don't forget that all the big stake holders are always the status quo by twisting and fabricating "facts".

tolstoy Sep 27, 2014 09:04am

Those who knowingly falsified are now put to shame. But will they repent really and take to the path of courageous honesty? A religion can drive a human being to be extremely honest or to be disgustingly dishonest. Which way will they now go?

Faisal Khan Sep 27, 2014 09:04am

Nothing but TRUE. But who cares and who listens?

flunkedutopian Sep 27, 2014 09:05am

Bombs indeed, John. But is it detonating at the right time, I think they are going Dud. As long as the power hungry in the garb of Religious preachers roam unhindered, this nation is bound to suffer.

T Baig Sep 27, 2014 09:22am

Great to see at least someone speaking about how the public opinion is shaped by these rating-hungry TV channels. And then we have everyone on streets trying to become a sector specialist with their ill-informed opinions further shaped up by the speeches of demagogue khan camping in front of the parliament.

Khan Sep 27, 2014 09:34am

I like that book you mentioned Parvez sahib. Chords behind these puppets may be too thin to be noticeable but hands, nevertheless, are right there out in the open.

ss Sep 27, 2014 09:48am

The problem is a lot more serious than acknowledged by the article. The truth is that extremists are no longer a fringe element in Pakistan society; they have become mainstream and their ideology enjoys widespread support among all segments of the society. Hence the sympathy for their objectives and tolerance of their barbaric methods.

aslam minhas Sep 27, 2014 10:01am

Pervez Sahib: You are a pillar of that section of our society that is still civilized. The media has gone into overdrive to project the two mediocre loose cannons and of course they have been prompted by 'les invisibles,' the usual suspects. Society is gradually changing, those Jahdis/Mujahideens are now beign treated as what they actually are, terrorists. This transformation came after the army suffered the casualties. Still we have a chance if we correct our attitudes towards violence in any form. Since education is the worst hit in our country, we keep mired in ambigious, obscure religious rites and attitudes.

mahmud Sep 27, 2014 10:02am

Don't just read and hear Professor Hoodbhoy's words- Listen to them!

This so called Media Wagon of misguided motley lot of "Anchors" have played havoc with the minds and the lives of their Pakistani audiences. They collectively - with single minded determination and with sickening regularity have provided a platform to those with dubious political agendas whose future was yesterday and who have an insidious agenda to derail and destroy every thing that is considered decent and honorable. Exposing or broadcasting the truth is one thing but giving a platform to lies - falsehoods- sensationalism and dangerous fiction is patently irresponsible and criminal. This PEMRA is a toothless watch dog...the phrase "The Tail wagging the Dog" is applicable and apt for them.

Arifq Sep 27, 2014 10:31am

Honorable Doctor Sahib echoes the sentiment of millions who watch this circus with disgust waiting for the day when we will be able to say and listen the voice of reason.

Rashid Sep 27, 2014 10:40am

Good one Dr. sab

Kamran Sep 27, 2014 10:49am

Thank God for people like Pervez Hoodbhoy. Bringing common sense to people not used to it is the real jihad. Thank you, Professor!

Aysha Sep 27, 2014 10:52am

Excellent Article. Dr. Pervez, I request you to please do something in regards to changing curriculum taught in pakistan's schools. They just spread hatred towards other countries and religions. Those books are the main cause of extremism in Pakistan. We are teaching our children distorted history. You are a ray of hope, please do something, if you can, to change it.

Ahad Sep 27, 2014 11:03am

Brilliant as usual. I understand there are word limits but just wish this was longer so you could have gone a deeper into why you think this change in tune has occurred.

Arshad Sep 27, 2014 11:59am

Many thanks for calling spade a spade, bless you!!!

Talat Haque Sep 27, 2014 12:04pm

The ability to put out truth with clarity !

neutral Sep 27, 2014 12:21pm

Late Cowasji used to quote Dr Hood Bhoy in his articles.

Ravi Dallas TX Sep 27, 2014 12:31pm

Wow, crisp and clear. Spot on.

Burjor Rustomji Sep 27, 2014 12:40pm

There are three articles in to-days Dawn that point towards the very deep malaise in Muslim societies. The first is the third editorial, about who is going to watch over the watchman, the second is the above article, and the third is about the "worse and worst", i.e. the ongoing wars in the Middle East between the I.S. and its neighbors. All three articles are well written by intelligent writers, and worthy of reading. The question arises why Muslim societies have sunk to such low depths?. Why are Muslims acting the way they do all over the world, and are causing so much pain to themselves, to their neighbors, and to the world at large?, can the three writers whom many Dawn readers have respect, please give their opinions. Thanking you.

Kartik K Sep 27, 2014 12:41pm

This Dr. should stick to science. Aligning with the corrupt regimes while preaching high moral demeanor. Prime example of the 'uncertainty principle'.

Naseem Sep 27, 2014 12:47pm

@Calcutta Man askaryat pasand means militant, and intiha pasand means extrimist

Niddercalling Sep 27, 2014 12:48pm

I agree fully with the sentiments of the author. TV channels are broadcasting this dharma as if the whole world has come to an end. And as he says, many channels have taken sides and forgotten what journalism is. Shame on you. (I do not want to name these channels). IK has some good ideas but his style is that of a dictator. He uses bad language, accuses opponents of crimes which cannot be proven and yet there are so many who look up to him. I would like to hear how is he going to finance all the projects he talks about? Over 60% of budget is consumed by Defence and another portion goes to interest due. If he spends money in the projects that he talks about, which projects is he going to abandon? Reduction of corruption will not automatically result in extra money. I know in Nigeria the corruption is highest in the world, but because it has a running unbroken democratic traditions, its economy is improving so much that it has overtaken South Africa as the number one economy in Africa. Talking about subjects which arouse our feelings is easy, putting them in action, not that easy.

Mithidada Sep 27, 2014 12:56pm

A truer article could not be written by the one Pakistani columnist whose common sense and sincerity has been untouched by the madness and intellectual dishonesty all around. Is there any way Hoodbhoy could be made the prime minister? For life.

Abbas Ali Sep 27, 2014 01:05pm

Please read the secret wars of CIA by Mr. William Cassey.

Dr. Sahaib has a valid points, but when the US congress, EU approves budget to support-Syrian rebels, Free Radio Iran, financing terror groups in South America , rebels in Central Asia for Russia/China containment, and openly propagates the idea of Chinese presence in Indian Pacific Oceans, & Far East is a threat to its interest, I don't think the idea of foreign hand is all that " brain washing the public".

Rizwan Sep 27, 2014 01:09pm

This is so true .The society has been destroyed instead of the Channels playing an positive role they have painted the country red

Rizwan Sep 27, 2014 01:15pm

He is right

Shamsher singh bajwa Sep 27, 2014 01:24pm

Pervez hoodbhoy is one of the very few sane voices from Pakistan. I really like him!

Shabbir Sep 27, 2014 01:29pm

I had a simple solution for myslef... no more TV. I have to self-help with a book "Power of positive thinking" and feeling better for last 15 days :). God bless all of us.

Adil Haider Sep 27, 2014 02:04pm

Ok, so now our educated liberal elite also sees a conspiracy in 'manufacturing' consent....these television channels according to liberal logic should be allowed a free-hand to do whatever they want...

overall I enjoyed reading the article but could not understand what was responsible for this shift in the media's attitude.

ali Sep 27, 2014 02:04pm

typical critique. I ve never heard any solutions from the guy.

Hasnain Sep 27, 2014 02:09pm

This effectively gifts billions of rupees of advertising time to an aggrieved loser of the 2013 elections, and a mysterious cleric with an unknown agenda.

It says it all... well done sir.

Mr.T Sep 27, 2014 02:14pm

Your analysis is 100% agreed, for the anchors, establishment, and other superiors. But if you see the common man in pakistan they are non educational intellectual. If you understand the common man thinking you will know it's very easy to fool them, thats what all politicians doing for long time very easily every day, just few statements and they can stay for 5 years. It's not what imran khan is, it's what imran khan saying and keep saying to the common people to stand for their rights. Again the common non educational intellectual people of pakistan must get good education or get out of pakistan to learn what outside world lives like, only then they will learn what is true meaning of unity faith and discipline.

Wit7 Sep 27, 2014 02:26pm

I still believe in Pakistan where minds like Mr. Hoodbhoy exist. Very well said Mr. Goodboy

Red Dawn Sep 27, 2014 02:27pm

@Calcutta Man Dehshatgard is a terrorist. Askariat pasand is militant, intehapasand is extremist.

Sarfraz Sep 27, 2014 02:33pm

@Fawad : Is it really public mandate that brought NS to power? This is million dollar question and require answer.

SR Khan Sep 27, 2014 02:55pm

Dear Professor, you are excellent as always; very interesting insights into a theme otherwise ignored.

Dr Shafiq Chughtai Sep 27, 2014 03:06pm

Dear Hoodbhoy, Don t you think it all started as a confusion.The two nation theory divided region on the basis of religion and unfortunately we have failed to agree in Pakistan on that.We have no religion we can agree on.People are violent today because they believe in it and hate others who don't.Yes the west in general does not promote any religion but it somehow brings people together and makes governance easy. On top of this we had other issues piling up and ultimately we ended up with this. With the birth of Taliban, don t you think we had a role, as a confused opportunistic.Than with the destruction of a country, we were allies to a lie.Don t you think this made us suffer in the long run.With this background, I can not see a single person who has taken this confusion out of our heads.May be we need to be like Iran or we accept it and become Turkey but this will stay there till the nation see it fate.

javed Iqbal Sep 27, 2014 03:12pm

No doubt a good article by PHB exposing ratings-hungry TV channels/ anchors dreadful role in TTP issue but eventually the writer did not conceal his bias/ anger against “Cricketer Khan”& coverage of his political shows.

Aslam Shaikh Sep 27, 2014 03:15pm

Please give us insight what you think about Islam and it's beliefs?

Aslam Shaikh Sep 27, 2014 03:18pm

Just is that media is never free whether here or in the West. Everywhere it is being used by people in power. Another question us that why so much hatred against the Army? The whole article repeats the same thing again and again. I think we are smart enough to read once and understand.

Punekar Sep 27, 2014 03:42pm

@Shamsher singh bajwa I entirely agree with you, Sir. Prof. Pervez Hoodbhoy is indeed one of the best thinkers in Pakistan.

Jamal Sep 27, 2014 04:14pm

Yes, let's focus on the "language" used and not the content discussed. That's such a Marvi Memon comment to end an overall good article.

Khan Sep 27, 2014 04:15pm

@Fawad Sir you maybe one you is living a life among the elite as you don't know the meaning of rigging and free and fair elections.

mohammad faiyaz khan Sep 27, 2014 04:24pm

Dr PH you have once again hit the bull's eye.Its the media guided by its vested interests which has brought this country to the brink.It has become so powerful that now it manipulates the political scene to its advantage.

Guest Sep 27, 2014 04:43pm

"This effectively gifts billions of rupees of advertising time to an aggrieved loser of the 2013 elections, and a mysterious cleric with an unknown agenda. Worse, by broadcasting — in fact, showcasing — the abusive language used by Cricketer Khan in attacking his opponents, the ‘free media’ reduces the quantum of civility in Pakistan every day." Absolutely true, unfortunately.

Azmat Sep 27, 2014 04:47pm

Thank you professor sahib for the occasional eye opener you provide the readers. BTW, may be I am just an optimist in thinking that perhaps for the Pakistanis, the tipping point has finally arrived esp with respect to terrorism. Also the TV channels playing the rating game have largely discredited themselves & vey few Pakistanis now believe the so called experts of the talk show circus...

Dr. Syed Hasnain Sep 27, 2014 04:51pm

@Calcutta Man

Askariat Pasand= Favoring Militancy Intiha Pasand= Favoring Extremism

To note is that they didn't go as far as actually saying Militants or Extremists!

Dehshat Gard: Terrorists

Dilectus Sep 27, 2014 05:15pm

Haters will hate - From IK with Love

Rashid Sep 27, 2014 05:19pm

Hoodbhoy I wish people would be as pragmatic and sensible like you. But Alas! the real problem of the Pakistan is it's people itself. The bashing of politician is a fad, but the real culprits reside beneath them, they are the people of Pakistan, and TV anchors are the worst of them.

We will never change, until we realize it is not Top that shapes the masses, but it is masses that shapes the top.

Anon Sep 27, 2014 05:38pm

Hoodbhoy should stick to what he knows... physics!

Everywhere else he just seems to come across like an angry upperclass teenager...

Anon Sep 27, 2014 05:41pm

Btw... on of the driving themes of Manufacturing Consent is about where the money comes from. Its about those financing/owning media houses are able to control the narratives....

What does professor Hoodbhoy have to say about the money the State Department has been pumping into the Pakistani media?

jamal khurshid Sep 27, 2014 05:54pm

@Fawad when all parties in assembly say that 2013 eelwctions were not fair ............why not hold mid term elections

Syed Zafar Kazmi Sep 27, 2014 06:00pm

@Calcutta Man: "And I would like to know what ‘askariat-pasand’ and ‘intiha-pasand’ mean....I mean, it would help me gauge the extent of "watering down" as Mr Hoodbhoy calls it." The equivalent word in Engish for the first word would be "Militant or Militaristic" whereas for the second word would be "Extremist".

Mangal Sep 27, 2014 06:02pm

While I have a lot of respect for Mr. Hoodbhoy, it is funny that he quotes Mr. Chomsky who is the single most powerful voice against drone attacks and who terms the US as the leading terrorist state in the world.

colin Sep 27, 2014 06:02pm

This is what an internationally respected,sober and highly intelligent scientist thinks of his own country/mass media/institutions/leaders !!

Please note that Prof.Hoodbhoy is no deranged,ranting"twitching with rage and shooting from the lip" Arundhati Roy who Indians en masse have only contempt for.

colin Sep 27, 2014 06:07pm

This is what an internationally respected,sober and highly intelligent scientist thinks of his own country/mass media/institutions/leaders

S. Haider Sep 27, 2014 06:10pm

Thank you Professor P. Hoodbhoy for your keen observations and logical analysis. Please continue to write for Dawn. We need you.

Jawad Sep 27, 2014 06:26pm

Seems like you wrote the whole article just for the last paragraph. Complaining about the dharna coverage. Although I fully agree with the first part but first thing---- TV channels show what people want to see , it's as simple as that. They may invent words to be politically correct. ( you may agree or disagree with it). I really think there was a time when talks with the extremists would have been fruitful ( if were done without bias--- ) bit a couple of attacks , especially the airport attack really the cause of full support to army. Now coming down to PTI and PAT coverage ---- I think it's mainly what people want to see -- hence the ratings--- the media has played a role in changing the mood of people , but remember it would only happen if people are willing ---it's not a surprise that after decades of suppression people are finally waking up for their rights and certain ( majority) TV channels have and are playing a positive role. And again a TV channel will keep on showing as long as there is response. And here we have seen a tremendous response. For once media and people are on the same wavelength.

Elyas Sep 27, 2014 06:34pm

You are so on the money Mr. Hoodbohy.

ashok kumar lal Sep 27, 2014 06:37pm

why mr. khan can not wait or three and half years, and face next he sure of losing it.who is bank rolling him and advising him.

nasiroski Sep 27, 2014 06:47pm

Wonderful infact too much truth for one article, unfortunately it will never get to the masses of Pakistan, Gen Gul and his like will keep pouring poison down the ears of masses

Jawad Sep 27, 2014 06:50pm

@Rashid I disagree. Even tho the politicians are representatives of a society but it's the top + rule of law and MAKING people follow the rule of law indiscriminately -- that shapes the society. There is a reason when you go to a western country -- you are on time for you bus/ plane etc and you don't drive through a resolute because you know you'll get ticketed ( even if you are a senator) the rule of law is FORCED indiscriminately. So people follow the rules in their country. So our politicians behave in USA or England but as soon as they arrive back ---- suddenly they are superior human beings??? There is some education factor also but mainly when people know that they'll be held responsible -- they behave. And that my friend needs to be forced from the top. For which you need honest people at the top.

Sakhawat Ali Khan Sep 27, 2014 07:27pm

@Calcutta Man "askariat pasand" = militant "inteha pasand" = extremist but the these words sound less censorious than the word "dehshat-gard" =terrorist. That's what Professor Hood Bhoy is referring by saying "watering down".

Syed Ahmed Sep 27, 2014 07:40pm

Mother of all evil is lack of education which the corrupt politicians will never address.

Kashmiri Sep 27, 2014 07:48pm

@Calcutta Man Askari pasand means militant the one who likes voilence inorder to achive poltical ends. & intheha pasand means an extremist or or an ultra

Muhammad ibrar saleem Sep 27, 2014 08:16pm

Pakistan army may have committed some wrongs in the past,but the recent steps like that of zarb e Azb was an emergent need.Terrorists attacks not only jeopardized not only our security but also name and fame in the comity of world.And the role of media is very depressing, it has done more harm than to soothe people.IK and Tahir ul qadri should behave like a sensible politician.they should criticize govt policies and should gave a tough time to govt rather than to sit in Islamabad and attacking institutions.

tariq Sep 27, 2014 08:17pm

Well then I guess the Government controlled PTV channel always tells the truth? Right? From the time of Ayub Khan the national press trust has always kept the truth from the nation. If you believe that the Government doesn't control and lie to the nation then I have some swamp land I would like to sell you.

Mandori Sep 27, 2014 09:02pm

I generally have high esteem for the professor, however this article is a bit befuddling regarding his attitude,Mandori which tilts towards favouring the status quo to pervade. Does it mean that he is condoning cheating, rigging, corruption? It is like people getting mileage out of fake degrees in gaining employment or political leverage, or someone writing a cheat thesis to gain a Phd and then you saying "Oh let it be...wait for your turn"...pretty absurd. Mandori

Faiza G. R. Bhatt Sep 27, 2014 10:06pm

if you don't address the issue of election rigging today, you will never be able to get Punjab out of PML N, Sindh out of PPP, and Karachi out of MQM's control through democratic means.

not so unsure Sep 27, 2014 10:13pm

Can't agree more... and that reminds us of 2 'JAHILS'...

ahmed K Sep 27, 2014 10:50pm

In pakistan anchors are so powerful that countries highest court,Supreme court(one which sent a PM home) orders mubashir luqman to appear before court but he doesn't care to appear and on top of that he doesn't even care to submit his reply through a lawyer. Even IK and Qadri use their lawyers to convey their perspective to SC.

msh Sep 27, 2014 11:00pm

Sir, As a Pakistani living abroad, I have always admired your bold and truthful stance on different issues. Very few people speak the truth like you. Most Pakistani anchors are big hypocrites and selling what sells. People like you are an asset to any nation. God bless you.

Parvez Sep 27, 2014 11:35pm

Great article...... but I disagree with the ending

Suyogee Sep 28, 2014 12:09am

Bitter truth, but unadulterated truth!

Imtiaz hamid Sep 28, 2014 12:30am

Professor you spoke for me. It is about time to look at ourselves we would not find it very pretty may be .......ugly

Shafqat satti Sep 28, 2014 12:34am

Always telling the truth as it is am a big fan Mr Hoodbhoy.

Ahmad Sep 28, 2014 12:43am

Wonderful analysis. The business interest of media houses is playing havoc with the very fabric of Pakistani society.

Saddam Wazir Sep 28, 2014 12:51am

And this is called Pervez Hoodbhoy....known for its truth and as a devoted Pakistani,who,still busy in bandaging the wounded parts of this nation.It means that only #IK is not that person who can speak the truth,here goes professor HOODBHOY.

Zia Sep 28, 2014 01:30am

A bunch of untrained hooligans fighting a professional army and carrying on almost for a decade now . From where they are getting the logistic support much needed to fight such prolonged battles ? A simple question but with no answer . Isn't it some thing to ponder upon ?

Michael Khatana Ph.D. Sep 28, 2014 01:43am

The author should be teaching political science and how Pakistani media influences political events and trends. Indeed, his analysis is right on the button. True, chickens have finally come home to roost.

Rahil Sep 28, 2014 01:56am

@Calcutta Man So it's 2way lane !

aditya Sep 28, 2014 02:04am

@PI its been old for SIXTY long do u plan to wait before doing ANYTHING about it man

zack Sep 28, 2014 03:56am

Awesome, last paragraph is an excellent add on.

LiFafi Sahafi Sep 28, 2014 04:38am

@ali "typical critique. I ve never heard any solutions from the guy."

Javed Sep 28, 2014 04:52am

Great article. The media and Pakistani political culture reflects ethical frailty of the society, specially of the so-called educated society. Nobody, in any civil society, can boast like ex-army chief Aslam Baig and Rtd. General Hamid Gul with confused and conflicting conjectures and black & white extremism. Of course, they are pure white, without blemish, and those who may have a differing opinion, what to talk about opposite, are summarily condemned as apostate, unpatriotic and worthy of having their head served on a platter. What is lacking in our civil society is plurality and civilized mannerism. What is sad that it is rampant in the educated class. Poor and illiterate population is more civilized, decent, content and God fearing. We forget that we will be answerable to All-mighty in direct proportion to all the blessings we enjoy in this world. Please read the Quran as it is meant to read and try to observe its tenants as best as one can. God will open the doors of His infinite mercy on us. That is His promise!

Sunil Sep 28, 2014 06:07am

Professor Hoodbhoy is a realist in Blunderland

Whistle Sep 28, 2014 06:39am

Worth reading and a great analysis.

Akil Akhtar Sep 28, 2014 07:49am

We need nationalists not anarchists

JUDE Sep 28, 2014 09:01am

Thank you for speaking the truth hoodbhoy,

These channels are paid to CREATE news, they cross all bounds in doing.

Zo Sep 28, 2014 09:53am

Amazing work.

Saad Sep 28, 2014 10:34am

Massive respect for Professor Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy

Ash Sep 28, 2014 10:46am

This is very very sane.

Abdul Sep 28, 2014 11:22am

The Dawn should be highly commended for publishing such fantastic articles. Dr. Hoodboy is a true champion and he is a treasure for Pakistan. It is a shame that Imran Khan (loud mouth) called him an agent of America on live TV show. How irresponsible of Imran Khan to have Sheik Rashid and Shireen Mazari (both crazy) as his spokespersons.

Sadruddin Mitha Sep 28, 2014 12:33pm

a man who speaks nothing but the truth, naked truth, and is brave enough to confront.

Aleem Sep 28, 2014 01:24pm

@PI We also need to identify problems first.

hani Sep 28, 2014 01:46pm

sir as usual you are bashing against Mr. Khan who has awaken the citizens from the so called democracy cum monarch... please draw out some loopholes of this system and its sufferers too... ( I plea to you via Dawn if it posts my comment )

rs Sep 28, 2014 02:33pm

It is the same in India. For the sake of Rating some insignificant news will be aired from morning to evening and discussed on TV by a panel divided equally between pro and against. In India these channels for more than one decade aired only negative news about Modi fully omitting the good work he was doing. But the public was aware of the reality and voted him as PM. It is funny to see the novice anchors speaking like experts on everything.

abdullah indher Sep 28, 2014 02:43pm

Dear Professor,

If this is going to be one of the article-series regarding the criticism on public mind exploitation only, I little value it. For much more than that is required from the scholars like you to take all possible measures for the public awareness. Whatever the efforts have been put to ferret out against anchors' corruption, could equally have worked well to improve public awareness. I only can appreciate it if this article has worked out to draw public attention towards 'overpaid and wilfully ignorant TV anchors' i.e. their corruption and nothing else.

mehr.zahra Sep 28, 2014 03:03pm

@Calcutta Man 'inteha pasand' means 'extremist' and 'askariat pasand' means 'militant'.

mlk Sep 28, 2014 05:01pm

Dont agree.

Mr. Pervez Hoodbhoy type of people live in Pakistan but they are against Pakistan. If you dont like Pakistan why dont you leave Pakistan and better settle in INDIA and any anti-Pakistan state.

TTP consist of more than 50 groups. Each groups has its own financing streams. Some linking with INDIA and some with others, What you have to say on the numbers of INDIA-Consulates om the border side of Pakistan. Yeah i undetstood, they are present to help poor afghani.

You may be good at Physics but you never be good other things. So keep concentrate on teaching student.

Calcutta Man Sep 28, 2014 05:49pm

@mehr.zahra Thank you Mehr but I have no idea if this "thank-you" note will ever make it; I made three attempts already since last night to thank the four to five people who have sought to help me, but each one has been blocked by Dawn.

Sadia Sep 28, 2014 06:24pm

@mlk you have no right to determine who is a patriot and who is not and no right to tell any pakistani not to live in his country.

Rafiq Sep 28, 2014 07:39pm

Salute to Hoodbhoy for this great sensible article. Wish Pakistan will have many more such voices to quell the din and madness.

I Ali K Sep 28, 2014 08:00pm

The analysis is very naive, ignoring the geo-political realities in the region. This article will appeal to only the ignorant. Our Dr. is a great physicist, but he is no expert in International Relations.

farhan Sep 28, 2014 11:22pm

Sir, I hope you witnessed today's crowd at Minar e Pakistan. Its not all TV generated. There is some substance to this man

Ghazanfar Abbas Sep 29, 2014 01:54am

We are not able to eliminate many problems from Pakistan by fair means, When Imran Khan abuses Nawaz or others and people start supporting it, it is not they hate Nawaz, but they hate the system in which they live like insects.

so i firmly believe being vother of Nawaz Sharif for last two times, I started hating him now when i know that his protocol is making many people wait of roads so that he can pass safely. So now matter is not with personality, now matter is with system. So any one against system that not gives rights to common man. We as common man will support him.

MJ Sep 29, 2014 09:10am

Great write up. You were spot on. Seems there is hope for Pakistan due to strong voice of people like you.

Jehanzeb Sep 29, 2014 01:15pm

The reality is that this author is as much disconnected from the concerns of the majority of Pakistanis as is the government. The phrase the Army is behind it has now become over used. There are many players behind, the least influential of them being the army, more so than the army, the proven corrupt government/legislators, the proven corrupt judicial system and the proven corrupt political parties and their party workers. Its shocking to see a professor speak like this about his country given his education and training in mathematics and logic. We repeatedly make the same mistakes of electing the same people and finally when someone stands up and offers a different solution he is shunned. This may be our suspicious nature as Pakistanis who have been repeatedly robbed continuously by the following whose lessons we fail to learn.

Nawaz - Builds Motorways and Punjab loves him for it. But Nawaz loves his motorways because big projects mean big cuts and cashflow into his bank accounts - we all know this. In Punjab everyone knows the biggest mafia is the Nawaz Mafia. Also punjabis are now realizing they dont really need motorways. They need cheap food, clothes, education and security and an end to land mafias.

PPP - Same goes for them. Everyone is in it for the money.

The standard rebuttal is - "Oh but Imran has no experience and if this entire parliament is corrupt then who is going to run the government." I think it would be safe to say that when a doctor with a questionable degree becomes the Minister of Energy and a Hair dresser and bar owner the interior minister we are better off with inexperienced technocrats. Not to mention an oblivious tweeting prince who may claim his throne and become our next prime minister. Regarding abusive language - did no one watch Chaudhry Nisar in the National Assembly. THAT was abusive language on a forum which is funded by our tax money. I really would not want to see my tax money being spent on Sindh Festivals or ending up in Swiss banks or being spent on National Assembly sessions where the agenda is not to solve Pakistan's problems but instead to tc Nawaz in long never ending speeches which lack substance and not to mention truth.

Have some sense Pakistan.

Iftikhar Sep 29, 2014 01:50pm

Cricketer Khan, mysterious cleric! Is it not a derogatory language? What if some one calls you mysterious scientist, mysterious writer? Overall article is fine. How does he know election in 2013 were fair? If Imran Khan has a different opinion then him on terrorism how wise it to call him cricketer Khan. Khan has so many good things on his credits and may value more than event writers research. If Imran is using not appropriate language for the opponents (though he is rightly calling them corrupt etc.) same has done by the writer in this article. Mysterious cleric is a Ph.D in the subject he should recognize.

Afghan Maihan Sep 30, 2014 12:35am

@ali The solution is to be truthful and to look inward, which is what PH is advocating.

Abdul Malik Sep 30, 2014 06:42am

Looking in from India, I fail to understand one simple thing. How could have NS rigged the election to go in his favour when he was not in power ? I mean, the ruling party of the moment would have had the power to 'fix' the elections and they would have rigged the elections to ensure their own victory rather than NS party.

pathanoo Sep 30, 2014 09:32pm

An excellent article with nothing but unwarnished truth. Just a point......Muslims have been the greatest killers of other Muslims throughout the Islamic history. Muslims, generally, have never been at peace among themselves or with non-Muslims. I wonder why?

Hassan Oct 04, 2014 03:54pm

@Calcutta Man : "Askariat Pasand" means Militant and " Inteha Pasand" means Extremist.